The Guarneri family and 20th-century Italian copies
2004, 68 pp.
rilegato in brossura, 24 x 32 cm
In handbooks of the history of music, the name Guarneri is linked to the Cannone, the mythical instrument that belonged to Niccolò Paganini and which he subsequently donated to the City of Genoa, where it is still kept. In some cases also his dualism with Stradivari is mentioned but nothing more. Perhaps it is also right that it should be so, because a handbook of music history is a popular work, inevitably limited to grasping only some aspects of the vast subject it deals with. Those who deal more closely with the history of violin making, however, know that the name Guarneri means much more: it is indeed the name of one of the greatest maestros of classic violin making, but it is also that of an entire family of masters, whose role is significant not only thanks to the masterpieces they produced, but also because some members of the Guarneri family took their art outside Cremona, in particular to Mantua and to Venice. Beyond these considerations, to grasp the importance of the name Guarneri in the history of violin making, it would perhaps be sufficient to consider how the instruments of the great masters of this family have been the model for entire generations of makers, right up to our own day. The intention of the exhibition and of the catalog is to highlight this particular aspect, giving the possibility of comparing original instruments and 19 violins made on the Guarneri model by as many modern makers of different Italian schools. From this comparison, the greatness of Guarneri del Gesù emerges, as a figure of reference capable of influencing and guiding the development of violin makers who came after him, following a different line than in the case of Stradivari: whereas in proposing the Stradivari model violin makers were seeking elegance of form, refined workmanship, overall beauty, in making instruments to the Guarneri model they were above all looking for acoustic results. And also in some cases achieving them, as the voices of many of the instruments collected for this occasion reveal.
Professor Versari was born in Cesena and studied the double-bass at the Martini Conservatory in Bologna. He played for a number of years as a freelance musician in Italy's top lyrical and symphonic orchestras, including that of the RAI in Turin.
After winning contests in a number of Italian theatres, including that held at the Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa, he moved to Bologna where he was chosen to play first double-bass in the Municipal Theatre Orchestra, a post he has held for about thirty years.
At the same time as playing in the orchestra, he also for many years taught the double-bass, initially at the Pollini Conservatory in Padua, and subsequently at the Martini Conservatory in Bologna.
He is now involved in violin making as a historian, collector, organiser and curator of exhibitions.
He is one of the top international experts in violin making, in particular modern violin making.